#workhuman:  How Do Opposites Attract? Common Purpose.

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So this picture of George W. Bush and Bono may be one of the greatest pictures I’ve seen.  Like me, I bet when most see it they are taken aback, do a double take and ask, “Is this photoshoped?”  Your fingers want to type out “caption this…” and see what craziness follows.  But then, when your brain re-orients itself and you pick your jaw up off the ground, you take a moment to read the post underneath written by “W” himself (it’s from his Instagram).

“Bono is the real deal.  He has a huge heart and a selfless soul, not to mention a decent voice.  @laurawbush and I are grateful he came to the ranch to talk about the work of @thebushcenter, @onecampaign, @PEPFAR, and our shared commitment to saving lives in Africa”

So how did an American, conservative (actually moderate in today’s political environment), ex-president and an Irish Rock Icon/Political Activist become partners, advocates and dare-I-say friends?  And get this, for the better part of 10 years? Common purpose.

I attended the U2 concert last week in Houston and was amazed Bono made a very gracious, inspired, and heartfelt thank you to #43 in front of the 72,000 person crowd.  Bono thanked him for his unyielding commitment to AIDS awareness and anti-poverty work over the last 10+ years. Even the most politically jaded concert-goers on both sides of the isle cheered.  Some of the loudest cheering of the night.  It seemed everyone was relieved to see positive common ground and a sense of collaboration from two unlikely partners.  It was like drinking a cold glass of lemonade after mowing an overgrown field of weeds.  Refreshing and rewarding.

In our work (and personal) lives common ground can be very difficult to find.  Time constraints, politics, and work overload put finding common purpose on the back-burner.  Why?  It takes time.  It takes conversation.  And it takes prioritization. Perhaps top prioritization needs to go to connecting with the people you assume you have the least in common with.

You may be very surprised.  And in looking for common ground underneath those “un-turned stones”, you may even change the world.

#Leadership Lesson Fm Gregg Allman – Faking It Doesn’t Fly

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This week Greg Allman died.  Founding member and keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist for The Allman Brothers, Greg lived a full-life.  Perhaps too full at times, for his cup did overflow many times, but no one would accuse Greg Allman of being boring.

Frankly, growing up I wasn’t an Allman brothers fan.  Later in my life, my husband, a huge fan, re-introduced them to me.  I had no choice but to listen to the Allman Brothers, and no shocker– they grew on me…a lot.  Let’s say they are the perfect band to drink a cocktail on the porch to.  Also, they were the “founders” of Southern Rock – so…enough said.

But regarding Greg Allman, his music didn’t influence me as much as a recent interview I saw on AXS TV’s, The Big Interview with Dan Rather.  He told a story that reaffirmed a fundamental leadership belief I’ve had for sometime:  You can fake it till you make it, but you better get”real”-real-quick if you want to be a transformative leader with staying power.  

Allman’s story below is a lesson in understanding and accepting who you are.  This is extremely important if you want to lead, support, or influence anyone (HR Leaders I am looking at you).

Allman was many, many things:  musician, brother, father, pioneer.  Unfortunately, Allman was also a raging alcoholic most of his life.  Junkie too.  Rehab 14 times.  Couldn’t kick it.  In this clip (starting at time stamp 4:30, but watch the whole thing), he tells a story about the night The Allman Brothers were inducted into the Rock Hall.  Despite his best efforts to drink just enough to stave of the shakes but not enough to get drunk, he indeed got wasted.  During his acceptance speech he couldn’t fake being OK – not possible.  The abuse had caught up to him in a very personal yet public way.  It crushed his spirit.

Sad thing — the more he tried to hide it, the more everyone knew his game.  His pretending effected no one but himself, and it almost broke him.  A man who wore his authenticity on his sleeve in every way, thought he could hide a part of himself that was perhaps most visibly and mentally (at the time) prevalent.  This was not good and effected his ability to work, create and lead.

Real leaders are not pretenders.  Real leaders do not pretend to be experts in areas they are not. Real leaders do not pretend to have “made-it”.  Real leaders do not pretend they are always in control.  Real leaders do not pretend to be flawless, scarred or troubled.  Rather, they understand their flaws make them relate-able, unique and trustworthy.  They understand their flaws are what make them the most “follow-able” and the most willing to ask for help when necessary.

Since Allman was so much more than just an “alcoholic”, I encourage you to check out this GREAT CBS interview (did you know he was going to go to med school?).

Also check out this groovy (quite literally) video of Gregg singing The Whipping Post…. 

RIP Gregg Allman — thank goodness you found your path and could share you story with all of us.

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#HR Hired Before Execs! Fad or Fundamental

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Over the years I’ve seen HR practices come and go.  Remember the Zappo’s “Holacracy”? Sounded great…but didn’t stick. This, my friends, is what we would call a fad.  So, in that vein, a friend of mine forwarded me a New York Times Article titled: Focusing On HR Before Ping Pong Tables. The article describes a shift in the startup world where HR Leaders are amongst the first to be hired rather than the last.

“Should HR come first in success planning? Even for startups? Yes, here’s why:”

I read this and thought, “It’s about time. The millennials are getting this RIGHT!”  Yes, I said the millennials.  Perhaps exposure to corporate talent failures have gotten through the interwebs (cough…Uber) combined with millennials’ innate desire to “do what is right socially” is shifting the perception of what HR’s true value proposition is.

Many of us have witnessed the HR-Afterthought Effect. Here is the typical progression of the HR function at ACME Corporation:

  • Phase I:  The leaders themselves are HR.  (which means there is no HR)…

Read the rest of my post (and lots of other great stuff) on the Clear Company blog. And join me at the Clear Company Talent Success Conference in Boston this fall!